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What are all the differences between the iPhone 5s models?
Please note that the iPhone 5s has been discontinued. However, this Q&A has been updated with current iOS support details and can be quite helpful for anyone buying or selling an iPhone 5s on the used market.
f you clicked on this EveryiPhone.com Q&A expecting to read about three different color choices for the iPhone 5s, you may be surprised to learn that there actually are eight different iPhone 5s models. Each model has three color choices and three capacities. Although different capacities and color options were discontinued at different times, all capacities and colors remain available on the used market, naturally.
To help with differentiation, EveryiPhone.com more precisely refers to each iPhone 5s as the iPhone 5s (GSM/North America/A1533), 5s (CDMA/Verizon/A1533), 5s (CDMA/China Telecom/A1533), 5s (CDMA/US/Japan/A1453), 5s (UK/Europe/Middle East/A1457), 5s (China Unicom/A1528), 5s (Asia Pacific/A1530), and 5s (China Mobile/A1518).
The iPhone 5s models essentially are identical except for initial carrier distribution and network support. However, understanding the network support differences and how to identify each model is important particularly. It is worthwhile to evaluate the similarities among the models, too.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 5s, Gold Color Option)
External Similarities & Differences
All iPhone 5s models have the same 4-inch multitouch IPS LED-backlit "Retina" display with 1136x640 resolution (326 ppi) and an 800:1 contrast ratio.
All iPhone 5s models also use a lightweight, largely aluminum, body design with a thin "chamfered cut" band around the sides that accommodates an assortment of mobile antennas. However, the entire front is glass, as are the top and bottom portions of the back of the device to allow signals to penetrate the housing. The iPhone 5s is offered in three color options -- "Space Gray," Gold, and Silver.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 5s Color Options -- Silver, Gold, & Space Gray)
The Space Gray option has a black glass front and a medium toned gunmetal gray colored aluminum back, the Silver option has a white glass front and a silver colored aluminum back, and the discontinued Gold option has a white glass front and a gold colored aluminum back.
Regardless of color, all iPhone 5s models have a "Touch ID" fingerprint sensor embedded in the "home" button that can be used in lieu of the more traditional passcode option.
All iPhone 5s models additionally have a side-mounted Nano SIM access panel, a bottom-mounted headphone jack, microphone, and Lightning connector, as well as a single built-in speaker. They ship with "EarPod" headphones that include the integrated Remote and Mic, too.
All iPhone 5s models have dual cameras.
On the back, the iPhone 5s models have an 8 megapixel, 1080p "iSight" camera with 1.5 micron pixels, an f/2.2 aperture, and a dual LED "True Tone" flash that "variably adjusts color and intensity for over 1,000 combinations, so photos taken with a flash appear more natural." The rear camera also has a backside illumination sensor, a five-element lens, and a hybrid IR filter.
The back camera additionally supports autofocus, tap to focus, face detection, Panorama, "Slo-Mo" video, burst mode (which takes many shots in a quick "burst" and then makes an effort to select the best one for you), and photo geotagging in software.
The front "FaceTime" camera has a 1.2 megapixel sensor and is capable of taking 1280x960 photos as well as 720p video. Apple states that this camera provides "better low-light performance" than previous iPhone models, but refers to the camera as "FaceTime HD" in some marketing copy and just "FaceTime" in others.
Five of the eight iPhone 5s models can be specifically identified by Model Number, which is provided on the back of each phone in tiny type. Unfortunately, the remaining three models cannot be identified by Model Number alone.
Initial carrier support and distribution limited the number of different iPhone 5s models that one was likely to encounter in any one location.
However, it still is useful to be able to precisely identify each model, particularly as used iPhone 5s models circumnavigate the globe and reach locations and carriers other than the initial target market.
Specifically, the eight different iPhone 5s models have these model numbers:
As noted above, three of the iPhone 5s models -- two distributed in the US and one distributed in China -- are the difficult ones to identify as they both share the A1533 model number. Consequently, if the iPhone will boot, the most convenient way to identify a specific A1533 iPhone 5s model is with the Order Number -- which Apple refers to as the "Model" within the iOS -- or by its Serial Number listed in software.
To find the "Model" and Serial Number, touch the "Settings" icon on the homescreen and select General > About and then scroll until "Model" or "Serial Number" is visible. The "Model" identifier looks like ME305LL/A, which specifically refers to the GSM A1533 iPhone 5s in gray with 16 GB of storage and locked to AT&T.
Each iPhone 5s device, regardless of other network compatibility, supports 802.11n Wi-Fi on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies in addition to Bluetooth 4.0 and the 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz frequencies of GSM/EDGE.
However, other supported cellular networks are quite different:
|GSM/North America||A1533†||850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz||None||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25|
|CDMA/Verizon||A1533||850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz||800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25|
|CDMA/China Tel.||A1533||850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz||800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz||None|
|CDMA/US/Japan||A1453||850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz||800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26|
|UK/Europe/M. East||A1457||850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz||None||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20|
|China Unicom||A1528||850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz||None||None*|
|Asia Pacific||A1530||850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz||None||FDD-LTE (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)|
|China Mobile||A1518||850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz||None||TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)|
† Please note that in the US, only the GSM version of the A1533 iPhone 5s is available unlocked and without a contract and it does not support CDMA networks.
* Officially, only the A1518 China Mobile iPhone 5s as well as the A1530 Asia Pacific iPhone 5s can "access China Mobile's 3G and 4G networks with a carrier setting update." However, a helpful Chinese reader reported that "people have managed to crack the carrier settings and enable LTE-TDD" on China Mobile with the A1528 China Unicom iPhone 5s, as well. This hack requires one to "write blank SIM cards with fake IMSIs, switch cards in a particular order, and manually select China Mobile as the carrier." Nevertheless, it also is worth noting that Apple appears to be actively correcting "an issue with some iPhone 5s models that were mistakenly provisioned with the ability to connect to China Mobile's 4G network," as well. No doubt the cat and mouse game will continue.
For complete details regarding specific LTE support, it will be necessary to check with specific carrier(s) in a particular location.
Internal & Battery Life Similarities
Each iPhone 5s model originally was offered with 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of flash storage. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB option, although all capacities now are available on the used market, naturally.
Apple proudly proclaims that the iPhone 5s is the "world's first smartphone with 64-bit desktop-class architecture for blazing fast performance in the palm of your hand." Specifically, the company notes that the iPhone 5s packs an all new Apple "A7" chip as well as a new "M7 motion coprocessor."
Apple does not provide additional technical details, but the always excellent AnandTech was first to determine that the Apple A7 processor is a ARMv8 derivative of Apple's "Swift" dual core architecture called "Cyclone" and it runs at 1.3 GHz. It also is 28 nm, has and a 64k/64k level 1 (instruction/data) cache and a 1 MB level 2 cache. AnandTech also noted that the iPhone 5s models have 1 GB of RAM, too.
Apple reports that all iPhone 5s models provide "up to" 40 hours of audio playback, 10 hours of talk time on 3G, 8 hours of Internet use on 3G, 10 hours of Internet use on 4G/LTE, 10 hours of Internet use on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback and 250 hours of standby time.
iOS Support Similarities
Regardless of the location sold, carrier, or network support, iPhone 5s models initially shipped with iOS 7, and later shipped with iOS 8 or iOS 9. They are compatible with iOS 10, too, although they do not support the minor "Raise to Wake" feature.
Regardless of the version of the iOS preinstalled, all devices are fully compatible with the latest version of the operating system with the exception of FaceTime audio for Chinese models due to state restrictions on VOIP services. However, if the iPhone 5s is running a later version of the iOS, it is not simple to "downgrade" to earlier versions without resorting to "jailbreaks" or other hacks.
As demonstrated by iAppleBytes in the below video, the iPhone 5s is roughly the same speed running iOS 8 as iOS 9:
In hands-on experience, the iPhone 5s appears to be a little faster in some tasks and a little slower in others, but the performance is comparable and iOS 9 is a worthy upgrade for this model. For the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c, on the other hand, iOS 8 is a better choice for those who place priority on performance.
iPhone 5s Comparison Chart
These differences -- identifiers, network support, and target countries -- along with pricing details are summarized below:
|FDD-LTE:||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25||No||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20
||No||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20||No|
|TD-LTE:||No||No||No||No||No||No||38, 39, 40||38, 39, 40|
|TD-SCDMA:||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||1900 (F), 2000 (A)|
* These prices are for 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of storage, respectively, and were locked to a carrier with a required a two-year contract. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB option and dropped the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options to US$99 and US$149, still locked to a carrier with a two-year contract. On September 9, 2015, Apple again dropped the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options, no longer available in gold, to US$0 and US$49, respectively, still locked to a carrier with a two-year contract.
† The A1533 iPhone 5s (GSM) originally was available unlocked and contract free in the US for US$649, US$749, and US$849. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB configuration and cut the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options to US$549 and US$599, respectively. On September 9, 2015, Apple dropped the pricing to US$450 and US$499, for 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, unlocked and contract free in silver or gray.
§ This model originally was offered in China on China Telecom's network without a contract for RMB 5,288, RMB 6,088, and RMB 6,888, with 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB option and lowered the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options to RMB 4,488 and RMB 4,888. On September 9, 2015, Apple dropped the pricing to RMB 3,288 and RMB 3,688, for 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, unlocked and contract free in silver or gray.
** Original prices varied depending on country and carrier. In the UK, this iPhone 5s originally was available unlocked and contract free for £549, £629, and £709, respectively. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB option and lowered the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options to £459 and £499. On September 9, 2015, Apple dropped the pricing to £379 and £419, for 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, unlocked and contract free in silver or gray.
§§ This model originally was offered in China on China Unicom's network both unlocked and without a contract for RMB 5,288, RMB 6,088, and RMB 6,888, with 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB option and lowered the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options to RMB 4,488 and RMB 4,888, respectively. On September 9, 2015, Apple dropped the pricing to RMB 3,288 and RMB 3,688, for 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, unlocked and contract free in silver or gray.
†† Original prices varied depending on country and carrier. In Australia, this iPhone 5s originally was available unlocked and contract free for A$869, A$999, and A$1129, respectively. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB option and cut the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options to A$749 and A$799. On September 9, 2015, Apple maintained the pricing of the 16 GB option at A$749 and raised the price of the 32 GB option to A$829, unlocked and contract free in silver or gray.
*** This model originally was offered in China on China Mobile's network for RMB 5,288, RMB 6,088, and RMB 6,888, with 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage, respectively. On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the 64 GB option and lowered the price of the 16 GB and 32 GB options to RMB 4,488 and RMB 4,888, respectively. On September 9, 2015, Apple dropped the pricing to RMB 3,288 and RMB 3,688, for 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, unlocked and contract free in silver or gray.
For introductory pricing in dozens of other countries, see the "Global Prices" on the specs page for each iPhone as well as the "By Global Original Prices" section.
EveryiPhone.com's Ultimate iComparison feature, which makes it easy to dynamically compare any iPhone model to any other iPod, iPhone, or iPad additionally may be of interest.
iPhone Purchase & Sale Options
There are no shortage of places to buy a used iPhone 5s. However, buying your iPhone from a quality company with a reputation for excellence -- and strong after sales support -- will provide the best experience and save you money and time, too.
In the US, site sponsor PowerMax has a good selection of used iPhones -- including the iPhone 5s -- available for sale free of sales tax. PowerMax also accepts trade-ins on older iPhones toward the purchase of a newer iPhone or anything else they sell. If you just want money for your old iPhone, site sponsor BuyBackWorld will buy your older iPhone directly for fast cash or sell you a used iPhone from their extensive selection.
Also see: What are all the differences between the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s? Are there major differences?